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CHAPTER V

ALL the elements that were to combine in a more violent
chemistry had been present, it later seemed upon looking
back, that Christmas at the Senator's house. None was
lacking, but their combination at that time appeared so
natural, so calm, so innocent, so stable, that only the slow
attrition of time might be believed to threaten it. If Mr.
Munn, remembering the occasion of his speech at the first
rally and looking about the pleasant, firelit room, had been
struck for a moment with the force of accident and change
and the thought of the solitariness of the snowy night out-
side, it had been only for a moment. Later, he was to curse
his blindness, his stupidity, and his vanity. The signs of the
future had been there in all his experiences of that time, but
he had lacked the key, the clue to the code, and had seen
only the ignorant surface. Or those events of the future had
appeared at that time like icebergs which are seen riding on
the blue and placid horizon, patches of white cloud no bigger
than a man's hand, which, with seven-eighths of their enor-
mous, steel-hard, ram-like bulk submerged, may be moving
unpredictably toward a fatal conjunction. And more than
once or twice, in a moment of self-accusation or in the grip
of an impersonal fatalism, such as the loser feels when the
cards of the last hand begin to fall under the glaring, green-
shaded light, he was to demand of himself: If I couldn't
know myself, how could I know any of the rest of them?
Or anything? Certainly he had not known himself, he
would decide; if indeed the self of that time could claim any
coatinuator in the self that was to look backward and specu-
late, and torture the question. Then, thinking that the self
he remembered, and perhaps remembered but imperfectly,
and the later self were nothing more than superimposed ex-
posures on the same film of a camera, he felt that all of his
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